Russian Vocabulary (and Wisdom)

How to say "to understand" in Russian

This Russian word is one of the top 1000 words in Russian. The complete list of most common Russian words is available here.


Meaning: to understand, to comprehend, to realize

Pronunciation: [pah-NYAHT']

Part of speech: verb (perfective aspect)

Rank: #126 (see frequency list)

 Example sentences:
  • Это сло́жно поня́ть.
  • This is difficult to grasp / understand.
  • Анто́н ничего́ не мог поня́ть.
  • Anton couldn't understand anything.
  • Пра́вильно ли я Вас по́нял?
  • Have I understood you correctly? (polite; said by a male)
  • Я пыта́лся поня́ть, что́ она́ чу́вствовала.
  • I was trying to understand what she felt.
  • Я так и по́нял.
  • That's exactly how I understood it. (said by a male)
  • Мы сра́зу по́няли, что э́то она́.
  • We immediately realized that it was her.
  • Я не по́нял Вас. Повтори́те, пожа́луйста!
  • I didn't get you. Please repeat! (polite)
  • Не поня́в шу́тки, он разозли́лся.
  • Not having understood the joke, he got angry.
  • Поня́в, что заблуди́лся, он позвони́л роди́телям.
  • Having realized that he got lost, he called his parents.
  • Вы должны́ э́то поня́ть.
  • You must understand this. (polite or plural)
  • Не трать вре́мя, он всё равно́ не поймёт.
  • Don't waste your time, he won't understand anyway. (informal)
  • Я вас понима́ю.
  • I see what you mean. (polite or plural)
  •  literal  I understand you.
  • Я не совсе́м по́нял, что ты сказа́л.
  • I didn’t quite catch what you said. (informal; said by a male; addressing a male)
  • Макси́м по́нял намёк.
  • Maxim took the hint.
  • Я ника́к не пойму́, что случи́лось.
  • I can't for life of me understand what happened.

 Idioms and set expressions:
  • дать понять, что... = to make it clear that...
      literal  to give to understand that...
  • Я по́нял! = Got it!; I see! (said by a male)
  • понять, что к чему = to understand what's what; to understand the how and why of things
 Verb conjugation:

Present Tense

The perfective verb понять is not used in the Present Tense. Use the imperfective verb понимать instead.

Past Tense

I, you (singular), he по́нял
she поняла́
it по́няло
we, you (plural), they по́няли

Future Simple Tense

I пойму́
you (singular) поймёшь
he, she, it поймёт
we поймём
you (plural) поймёте
they пойму́т

Future Compound Tense

The perfective verb понять is not used in the Future Compound Tense. Use the imperfective verb понимать instead.

Imperative Mood (Command Form)

you (singular) пойми́
you (plural) пойми́те

View full conjugation table for the verb pair понимать/понять

Phrase recordings: Copyright(c) 2011 All rights reserved.
Word recordings: Copyright(c) 2006 Streit Goulnara, Streit Eric, Vion Nicolas. Copyright(c) 2007 S. Sakhno, N. Vion. Distributed under CC-BY.

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